In the sport of NASCAR, momentum is key. Drivers who are on a roll can often overcome obstacles on the track and still manage to put themselves in good position towards the end of a race. Drivers with a lot of momentum on their side also carry a knack for having luck on their side as well. It’s all too often that a driver who is on a roll seems to always be the one catching all of the positive breaks.
However, NASCAR is funny in the way that when momentum isn’t on your side it seems like if it weren’t for bad luck, you would have no luck at all.
Two races into the season the Hendrick Motorsports team sans Kasey Kahne, is building up a great deal of momentum. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all heading into Las Vegas next week feeling as though lady luck is on their side.
Earnhardt, Gordon and Johnson currently sit first, third and fifth in the point standings respectively. All three drivers have finished inside of the top-10 during the first two races of the season. Gordon and Earnhardt have finished inside of the top-five during the first two events this season, with Earnhardt winning the Daytona 500.
Earnhardt’s fast start is something that the most popular driver in NASCAR badly needed. His win at Daytona not only takes pressure off of him for the rest of the season but it also almost guarantees him a spot in this year’s chase. Earnhardt is off to the best start in his career and all of his fans are already thinking about how this could translate into his first championship.
Gordon is also looking for a championship, his fifth NASCAR championship. For Gordon the drive for that fifth championship has been years in the making. Since winning his last championship in 2001, Gordon’s career has been plagued by missed opportunities and more recently inconsistency. If Gordon can keep running in the top-five on a consistent basis, the wins are going to come. With those wins he will then put himself in contention to win that elusive fifth championship.
Like the other two drivers, Johnson wants to win a championship as well. However, a championship this season for Johnson would also mean history. Johnson currently is a six-time NASCAR champion; that puts him one championship behind Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty. Although he has won six championships in the past, the new playoff format could make it challenging for him to win a seventh. Regardless, Johnson is thus far showing fans that he plans on putting himself in a spot to be there when this season comes to an end.
As this trio looks to continue their early success in Las Vegas, Kahne will be looking to start his. Kahne currently sits 18th in the points. It’s still early in the season and all he really needs is to win a race, but negative momentum has the ability to cripple seasons. If Kahne strings together a few more bad starts he could find himself in a hole that he cannot dig himself out of.
Two races into this 2014 season and Team Hendrick is letting everyone know that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Only time will tell of they are able to keep this momentum going in the right direction.